How to help students with ADD/ADHD in higher education?
September 13, 2015 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Could you recommend resources (reading materials, interviews, blogs, names of experts in the field) to help me become a better teacher for adult students with ADD/ADHD?

I teach in a humanities field at a U.S. college. More and more students at both the undergraduate and graduate level are self-identifying as people with ADD/ADHD. The college has several centers to which students with a disabling condition can go to for support, but those centers doesn't offer much by way of support for the faculty who teach these students.

I would like to learn more about pedagogical techniques that work well for students with ADD/ADHD, both in the undergraduate classroom and in the context of one-on-one, graduate-level supervision. Could you recommend resources for me to read/watch/hear that might offer strategies I could try out to help these students? I am especially interested in ways to improve my written and oral feedback to students with ADD/ADHD about their own written work.

Thank you in advance.
posted by anonymous to Education (4 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a college professor in a STEM field. I often set up classes to include lots of small, low-stakes assignments, to help anxious students build some points (stuff like "Post a comment on the reading to the course management system once a week"). These tiny assignments actually seem to be the toughest for students with ADHD to manage. I don't have a perfect solution here, but I do try to be more flexible about deadlines when I know this is an issue.

A good friend of mine is a graduate student in the social sciences with an ADHD diagnosis. Her GRE verbal score was excellent-- something in the 90th percentile-- but her GRE essay score was abysmal, because she got interested in the prompt and wrote a thoughtful, nuanced response instead of a five-paragraph essay. With graduate students, this is the phenomenon I'd look out for: brilliant responses to questions you didn't ask, paired with apparent lack of interest in your official guidelines.
posted by yarntheory at 5:25 AM on September 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Have you tried contacting the disability centers on campus to voice your concerns?
posted by oceanjesse at 7:48 AM on September 14, 2015

From the graduate-level advising side of things, something I think can be useful to ALL students but especially to ADD/ADHD folks can be greater accountability. I know way too many thesis writers who ended up with semesters or even years when they really didn't get much accomplished because no one was watching and it is really easy to endlessly procrastinate when no one is watching and you have a huge project with an indefinite deadline. This doesn't have to be all you checking in with them constantly - it can also be working with students to develop their own accontability mechanisms (writing groups, peer accountability partners, etc.) as well as keeping on top of not letting students fall through the cracks if you don't hear from them for months on end. Again, I think many types of students struggle with accountability/staying on track during the thesis stage, but in my (limited!) experience it can be extra difficult for folks with attention issues.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:08 AM on September 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

Does your institution offer a center for teaching? Many do--this is a campus resource intended for faculty to learn about and improve their pedagogy. Perhaps see if they offer any resources for this subject, and suggest it as a potential topic for a workshop or roundtable discussion? I get the impression that many centers for teaching are underutilized by faculty members, so I bet your interest would be welcome.
posted by matematichica at 7:42 PM on September 14, 2015

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